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Denver TV station reporting police thwarted plot to kill Obama at convention

Post by News Tribune Staff on Aug. 25, 2008 at 7:57 pm with No Comments »
August 25, 2008 7:57 pm

This is a little out of our usual jurisdiction, but there’s nothing from the wire services on it yet.

A Denver TV station is reporting that authorities may have uncovered a plot to assassinate Barack Obama during his Thursday night acceptance speech and have made several arrests.

CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass reported one of the suspects told authorities they were “going to shoot Obama from a high vantage point using a … rifle … sighted at 750 yards.”

Law enforcement sources tell Maass that one of the suspects “was directly asked if they had come to Denver to kill Obama. He responded in the affirmative.”

The Rocky Mountain News also has a story, which credits CBS4 for the scoop.

The station is reporting the U.S. Attorney’s office in Denver has scheduled a press conference on Tuesday.

Update: This just came across from the Associated Press. The tone is a little more skeptical:

DENVER (AP) — The FBI is looking into reports in Denver media outlets that a man under investigation for drug and weapons violations may have made threats against Barack Obama, officials said Monday.

"It’s premature to say that it was a valid threat or that these folks have the ability to carry it out," said a U.S. government official familiar with the investigation. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

Obama will be in Denver this week to accept the Democratic nomination for president.

FBI spokeswoman Kathy Wright confirmed the FBI was investigating the reports but declined to elaborate. The Joint Information Center — a command set up by Denver, state and federal authorities to field media inquiries during the Democratic convention — said it had no immediate comment.

Aurora Police Detective Marcus Dudley said Monday that 28-year-old Tharin Robert Gartrell was arrested early Sunday in a routine traffic stop in the Denver suburb of Aurora. He is being investigated for possible methamphetamine and firearms violations, officials said.

Two other people were arrested in the case, Aurora police said in a statement. They didn’t immediately release more details.

Law enforcers in Denver are trying to find out whether the reported threats to Obama were valid.

"It could also turn out that these were nothing but a bunch of knuckleheads, meth heads," the U.S. government official said.

Gartrell was being held at the Arapahoe County jail on $50,000 bail on a felony charge of special offender, drug violations. The jail said he didn’t have a lawyer yet but was due in court Thursday.

U.S. Attorney Troy Eid said in a statement that federal charges were anticipated. Eid did not elaborate, but officials with the FBI; Secret Service; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and Aurora police set a news conference for Tuesday afternoon.

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